Call for Papers

‘International Organisations and Global Environmental Governance’
2005 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Berlin, 2-3 December 2005

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The Berlin Conference Steering Committee and the Environmental Policy and Global Change section of the German Political Science Association and its partners invite papers for the 2005 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, to be held in Berlin on 2-3 December 2005. This conference will be the fifth event in the series of annual Berlin Conferences. This year’s discussions will address the theme ‘International Organisations and Global Environmental Governance’.

The pressing problems of global environmental change have generated new theoretical understandings, methodological refinements and empirical knowledge of its institutional dimensions. Most of this work, however, has concentrated on the principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures that underlie the emerging system of global environmental governance. More systematic work has yet to be done on the actors at the international level that identify, analyse, manage and evaluate the pressing problems of global environmental change, notably the plethora of intergovernmental organisations and programmes that are entrusted with assisting in the mitigation of, and adaptation to, global environmental change. We make these organisations hence the central focus of the 2005 Berlin Conference.

The conference will focus on all types of international organisations, agencies, programmes, bureaus and secretariats that address global environmental change. These will include

• all relevant agencies of the United Nations system, ranging from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to the secretariat of the UN climate convention;
• the many intergovernmental agencies outside the UN system, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), or the World Bank;
• regional integration schemes such as the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
• new forms of intergovernmental mechanisms that have some actor-quality, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
• nongovernmental transnational actors, such as Greenpeace, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) or the Global Climate Coalition; and
• novel multi-stakeholder organisations beyond the state, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the World Commission on Dams (WCD).

Regarding these types of actors, we hope that the conference will advance knowledge on five questions:

1. Effects: What are the actual effects of international organisations in global environmental governance? Most international organisations have clear-cut and ambitious mission statements and policy planning documents, yet the real-world influence of these agencies is often unclear and sometimes in doubt. While much previous research has concentrated on understanding the effectiveness of international regimes, we hope to devote this conference to furthering the understanding of the effectiveness of international organisations as actors in international politics. Papers could examine, for example, the influence of international organisations on the generation, synthesis and dissemination of technical or scientific knowledge; on the initiation, negotiation and further development of international agreements; or on the implementation of international policies and programmes ‘on the ground’ in specific countries.

2. Design: Second, we solicit papers that focus on the design of international organisations and programmes in order to understand how different types of organisational design influence the effects of organisations. Such design features could include rules of access and participation, types of mandate, specification and legalisation of rules, voting procedures, or intra-organisational design features such as degree of hierarchisation and types of organisational cultures and procedures.

3. Interplay: Third, we seek to increase understanding of the role of international organisations within larger regimes or public policy networks, including the interplay of international organisations within the UN system and its influence on organisational effectiveness, feedback processes with private and public-private actors, the role of international organisations in initiating or supporting public-private partnerships, and the vertical interplay across scales.

4. Integration: Fourth, we invite papers that analyse policy integration within international organisations. Papers may either deal with the integration of different environmental issues in the policies of one organisation or with the integration of environmental concerns in the work and functioning of international organisations that are not primarily active in environmental policy.

5. Theories: Fifth, and interlinked with the four analytical clusters of questions above, we hope to contribute to a better theoretical understanding of the role of international organisations and a better methodological tool kit to use in this endeavour. To this end, we particularly invite theoretical, methodological or conceptual papers, in addition to empirical papers that have a clear theoretical or methodological motivation. All theoretical approaches that can offer some contribution to understanding international organisations are welcome, ranging from functionalism, sociological institutionalism, rational institutionalism, organization theories or constructivism to more normative approaches, such as world federalism or theories on the democratic accountability and legitimacy of international and transnational organisations.

Finally, we invite papers that focus on teaching global and national environmental governance, in line with the United Nations Decade on Sustainable Development in Higher Education. We especially encourage paper submissions about teaching programmes that focus on global environmental institutions and organisations that respond to the particular requirements of global environmental change, including its complexity, global causes and impacts, and the need of interdisciplinary understanding.

The 2005 Berlin Conference has been endorsed by the core projects ‘Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change’ and ‘Industrial Transformation’ of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). Papers that focus their analysis of international organisations on the key questions of these two global research programmes are therefore particularly invited for presentation. We especially welcome papers that analyse international organisations with a view to problems of fit, scale, and interplay. The Conference has also been endorsed by the Association for Ecological Economic Research (VÖW).

The 2005 Berlin Conference is organised by the Global Governance Project ( of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Institute for Environmental Studies), the Freie Universität Berlin (Environmental Policy Research Centre), the University of Oldenburg and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Additional support is provided by Volkswagen Foundation, Germany.

The conference will be held in English. Proposals for papers or for side-events should be sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail (no attachments please) should contain

- the title of the proposed paper,
- an abstract of less than 300 words (longer abstracts will be rejected. No graphs, references, tables etc. in the abstracts please), and
- the complete address and professional affiliation of all (co)-author(s).

The deadline for proposals is 31 May 2005.

All paper submissions will be reviewed by an international review panel. Notification of the decision will be sent by e-mail no later than 30 June 2005. Full papers are expected by 15 November 2005.

We are making all efforts to ensure funding to reimburse the travel costs of some conference participants, with a preference for junior colleagues and colleagues from developing countries. Paper presenters and other participants are asked to contribute a registration fee of 120 Euros (50 Euros for students with valid student ID) upon registration.

Conference Chair
Frank Biermann, Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; and Global Governance Project

Conference Co-Chair
Bernd Siebenhüner, School of Computing Science, Business Administration, Economics and Law, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg; and Global Governance Project

Conference Manager
Anna Schreyögg, Global Governance Project


Anna Schreyögg Conference Manager, 2005 Berlin Conference Bc2005@zedat.fu-